re: BOOKS: The Secret Life of Dust

From: Amara Graps (
Date: Fri Feb 22 2002 - 05:11:20 MST

From: Brian D Williams (
> The Secret Life of Dust
> From the Cosmos to the Kitchen Counter,
> the Big Consequences of little Things

>Ever wonder what dust really is and what if any good it is? This
>amazing book has the answer. Think it gets muggy now? Imagine 300%
>humidity, it won't thanks to dust.
>Extremely well written science.
>This is one of those books that will have you shaking your head in
>admiration as you read.

When I first received the advert for this book, from Amazon last July,
I passed it around our dust group, and nobody in my group was
interested enough to buy the book.

Review by July 2001
>What is dust? It's more than the generic "stuff" that lightly
>covers our tabletops if we're not diligent cleaners, writes Hannah
>Holmes. In fact, dust comes from such exotic places as stars,
>volcanoes, the evaporating seas, the clothing of kings, and even
>dead people. Sometimes benevolent, sometimes destructive, dust is a
>little bit of everything. Holmes puts all kinds of dust under the
>microscope in this short, sweet book.

Most household 'dust' is pieces of human skin, mites, junk. Finding
cosmic dust in your home is not that common. For our group, when we
think of 'dust', it's cosmic, so we have a bit of an image problem and
the book description (above) was discouraging for us. Secret? Hmm.

The origin of dust is late-evolved stars, and what we have in our
solar system is heavily processed material (because the dust lifetime
is tens of thousands of years), which is mostly generated from comets
and asteroids.

The exciting aspect of dust for us is that we are both observers on
the dust evolution process (dust being tracers of the Universe's
evolution, like photons), as well as its result. I am guessing that
the author she didn't go into too much detail about that ..?


Amara Graps, PhD             | Max-Planck-Institut fuer Kernphysik
Heidelberg Cosmic Dust Group | Saupfercheckweg 1
+49-6221-516-543             | 69117 Heidelberg, GERMANY    *
      "Never fight an inanimate object." - P. J. O'Rourke

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